More Attacks On Online Free Speech? Justice Department Subpoenas Site's Visitors IP Addresses

Tyler Durden's picture

CBS reports that the Justice department has submitted a subpoena request to demanding the site turn over all reader visit details on June 25, 2008. Furthermore, the Justice Department had demanded that the site do so without even disclosing the existence of the subpoena. Without even bringing up the question of just how far into the "1984" rabbit hole our society has gone based on this development, this situation raises numerous questions about the anonymity of not only Internet browsing (at least that based in the US), but the transacting in visitor records behind the scenes. If this one case has made it to the public, one wonders how many other comparable gag order-cum-subpoeans the Justice Department has sent out to other websites?

Just who is this Indymedia? According to CBS it is a left-of-center amalgamation of journalists and advocates that – according to their principles of unity and mission statement – work toward "promoting social and economic justice" and "social change."

More from CBS:

"I didn't think anything we were doing was worthy of any (federal) attention," [Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for] said in a telephone interview with
on Monday. After talking to other Indymedia volunteers, Clair ended up
calling the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which
represented her at no cost.

Under long-standing Justice Department guidelines,
subpoenas to members of the news media are supposed to receive special
treatment. One portion of the guidelines, for instance, says that "no
subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media" without "the
express authorization of the attorney general" – that would be current
attorney general Eric Holder – and subpoenas should be "directed at material information regarding a limited subject matter."

And the following odd development:

Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of The Press,
said a gag order to a news organization wouldn't stand up in court: "If
you get a subpoena and you're a journalist, they can't gag you."

Dalglish said that a subpoena being issued and withdrawn is not
unprecedented. "I have seen any number of these things withdrawn when
counsel for someone who is claiming a reporter's privilege says, 'Can
you tell me the date you got approval from the attorney general's
office'... I'm willing to chalk this up to bad lawyering on the part of
the DOJ, or just not thinking."

Making this investigation more mysterious is that is
an aggregation site, meaning articles that appear on it were published
somewhere else first, and there's no hint about what sparked the
criminal probe. Clair, the system administrator, says that no IP
(Internet Protocol) addresses are recorded for, and non-IP
address logs are kept for a few weeks and then discarded.

And this is where the story gets a little surreal, courtesy of an update from CBS:

A Justice Department official familiar with this subpoena just told me
that the attorney general's office never saw it and that it had not
been submitted to the department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. for
review. If that's correct, it suggests that U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison
and Assistant U.S. Attorney Doris Pryor did not follow department regulations
requiring the "express authorization of the attorney general" for media
subpoenas -- and it means that neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor
Acting Attorney General Mark Filip were involved. I wouldn't be
surprised to see an internal investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility; my source would not confirm or deny that.

Whether or not this is an example of the administration flagrantly ignoring proper legal procedure, or someone in charge believing they have a little more power than the Constitution afforded them, will presumably soon be made clear. Yet, we hope for the sake of their readers, that other comparable borderline-activist websites have sufficient protections to stand up to this form of bullying. There is a reason Zero Hedge maintains and operates its infrastructure entirely overseas.

Full subpoena:


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
bugs_'s picture

Oh great the EFF.  Good luck with that Kristina.

tip e. canoe's picture

bugs, curious, what's wrong with the EFF? 

Cheeky Bastard's picture

Fatwa on you for invoking a miserable outcome ....

Anonymous's picture

Well come back! Where have you been? I'm missing the promised daily European update.

Mad Max's picture

I suspect this will turn out to actually be a local prosecutor overstepping his bounds.  However, the W. Bush regime set the tone for this sort of thing, and the Obama regime has done absolutely zilch to change that tone for the better.

Thanks ZH for posting a PDF of the subpoena.  I've seen this story several other places but none had the actual subpoena.

Anonymous's picture

Well, surprise surprise, U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison is a Bush appointee. In fact, last time I checked, all the current U.S. Attorneys are still Bush appointees, owing to the fact that certain Senators are blocking any confirmation attempts for their replacements. Historically, custom has all U.S. Attorneys present their resignations at the change of administrations. This last time, not only did that not happen, but at least one threatened not to go even if fired.

So, yeah, Obama and pals aren't doing much in terms of wielding the broom, but there is also unprecedented obstruction going on.

Rainman's picture

Damn, politics is quite the blood sport. Rogue soldiers fragging the new General. Whoodathunkit ??

Mad Max's picture

Just got around to looking at the subpoena.  Not only is the above correct, I believe, but the subpoena was issued 3 days after Obama took office.  I don't see this particular abuse having anything to do with the Obama administration.

TumblingDice's picture

So hard to get things done with a supermajority.

boooyaaaah's picture

You said something bad about obama

You said zilch

You are on the list

E pluribus unum's picture

It appears that Eric Holder has about the same degree of competence as Little Timmy Geithner. I can't wait till these guys take over my heathcare too.

lsbumblebee's picture

I couldn't find any mention of this on their website. I wonder why 6-25-08 is so interesting to the fascists.

Anonymous's picture

fyi, 6/25/08 was a massive mobilization for the Obama campaign staffers in all 50 states for the general. Hillary had just given up and there was a push to get everyone in place by 7/1 so a huge amount of hiring and transfer of personnel went on that week. probably unrelated.

bugs_'s picture

Anyone who thinks this is new or that
it dates from the Bush administration
or that they are safe offshore has not
been paying attention. 

Anonymous's picture

Thank you. You are absolutely correct. Forget Bush vs. O. Google NWO, CFR, Bohemian Grove, Creature from Jekyll Island. This has been going on for a long, long time. Both Dems and Reps bow to the owl. Wake up, America.

PS: I am using an IP address spoof, so fuck off, Justice

justrichard's picture can be an interesting source of alternative perspectives.  Though not exactly the last bastion of capitalist theology (thanks ZH), they do cover often ignored stories like the murder of journalist Bradley Will and their passion seems to be fueled by notions of fairness, transparency and justice.  Worth a look...

mdtrader's picture

Anonymity & internet, that's an oxymoron.

Anonymous's picture

keep updating... I want to know where this goes. Could be the unleashing of the Justice Department on the internet. THERE WOULD BE NO STOPPING IT!!!

Anonymous's picture

Everyone peel the onion. Go long Tor proxies and encryption.

Rainman's picture

This will be an easy fix for our gubmint masters. Simply change those pesky, long-standing Justice Department guidelines on media subpoenas and force the Supreme Court to sort it out.

After all, this is the administration of " change ", ain't it ??

tradertim's picture

TD..u won't give them my IP address when they come after u next will u??

should i start using software on this site?

Anonymous's picture

tyler is cool. he would never give any of us up even if the jack booted thugs stuck a cold steel revolver barrel up against his temple and pulled the hammer back...:)

Miyagi_san's picture

The best way is a buyout with a gag order and non compete. Then were all bitches to the man ...I believe they already have a profile on me and many others. Starve the beast and the meek shall inherit the earth.

Catullus's picture

You are hereby commanded...

"I understand that this is voluntary on my part and I may appear before the Grand Jury with expenses paid as provided by United States statues."


WaterWings's picture

"Send the bill to uncle Bennie if you don't like it!"

Oxytan's picture

Warning signs ... warning signs.

Liechtenstein heh?  Glad to see once again that ZH is thinking several moves ahead in the chess game.  Seems like you are aware of what happens when TSHTF.  Kudos to Marla and Ty.

ptoemmes's picture

Perhaps we should take a moment to remember the USA veterans both passed on and still alive (as the day in the USA is intended) - but other countries as well - who have never questioned orders and fought to preserve the freedom of speech along with so many other of our freedoms.  Freedoms that seem to be under increasing attack each day from the creeping "corporatism" (no one word can describe the rot) that infects our country.

As soldiers you did not and do not question orders even if those orders send you in harms way to engage in conflicts that may not be worthy of the term war.  You have my unyielding gratitude even if I disagree with the politicians whose actions result in the harm you find yourselves placed in.

A special salute to all the ZH veterans.




Anonymous's picture

as a soldier you do not question orders? what kind of tripe is that? you take a oath to the constitution of the united states? have you ever read it?

nicholsong's picture

as a soldier you do not question orders? what kind of tripe is that? you take a oath to the constitution of the united states? have you ever read it?

...Apparently hasn't read the UCMJ either.

Anonymous's picture

I've just got to say that I find this totally outrageous. People don't realize how badly their rights are being trampled because they don't bother to be informed. This is a nation of complete idiots run by liars and criminals.

WaterWings's picture

I bet this is the tip of the iceberg. TD, ya gonna give us a heads up if they try to gag you? I'm glad I haven't posted my Social Security number on this site. Whew. Yet.

Unscarred's picture

With all of the information being disseminated by ZH, does anyone want to set an over/under line for how many weeks before Tyler and ZH receive a "Season's Greetings" from the DOJ?  I suppose you know that you're doing your job when people try to shut you up.

gmrpeabody's picture

Actually, ZH is doing THEIR job! (THEIR being the DOJ, the f--king losers)


Unscarred's picture

Great point.  So, if one man (Tyler Durden) is able to perform the task of the entire DOJ, then what the hell do we have to look forward to when Obamacare takes up 21%+ of our entire economy?

Fish Gone Bad's picture

The subpoena brings up an interesting question.  If you get subpoena'd from across the nation and you can not afford the cost of travel, what happens then?

Rainman's picture

Then justice will be served by the Traveling Judge, just as it was in the Frontier Days. Da Judge will come to town , work through 400 computer perp cases, then move on to the next town. Takes time, but it is efficient.

Gordon_Gekko's picture

Is there ANY doubt left in anyone's mind at this point that the United States is nothing but an open-air PRISON.

Leo Kolivakis's picture

And when wasn't it an open air prison?!? The late George Carlin had a great skit on the American Dream which was taken off YouTube. If you can find it, please post it here. It's an absolute must watch. He said it best, "it's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it". Where is the ACLU when you really need them???

MinnesotaNice's picture

That was just great... everyone should see that at least once...

Anonymous's picture

+1 for great justice

Gordon_Gekko's picture

"it's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it"

Truer words were never spoken.

gmrpeabody's picture

The ACLU...! Why, they are the advisors to the warden.



Anonymous's picture

hey gordon,

it always has been, just a matter of degree....

freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose..
janis joplin...

get rid of the damn fed and watch as the world gets a new lease on is just that simple.....

Gordon_Gekko's picture

Well, it is of the highest degree in America now. You can't fucking lift a finger without breaking a "law" of some sort these days.

Anonymous's picture

you think its bad now? wait until they pass the carbon tax...

nicholsong's picture

Ever seen Brazil?  There's a great scene where Harry Tuttle says "Now they got the whole country sectioned off with paperwork; can't make a move without a form."  He says this as he is being pursued as a terrorist for his freelance heating engineer ways.

Ah, here it is: